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Ethical issues in Schools-Cyber safety Tim Van Zyl
ESGD705/1202- Impact of ICT on Society

In the mid 1940s, innovative developments in science and philosophy led to the creation of a new branch of ethics that would later be called “computer ethics” or “information ethics”. The founder of this new philosophical field was the American scholar Norbert Wiener, a professor of mathematics and engineering at MIT. During the Second World War, together with his colleagues in America and Great Britain, Wiener helped to develop electronic computers and other new and powerful information technologies. Even while the War was raging on, Wiener foresaw enormous social and ethical implications of cybernetics combined with computers.

In 1976, nearly three decades after the publication of Wiener's book Cybernetics, Walter Maner noticed that the ethical questions and problems considered in his Medical Ethics course at Old Dominion University often became more complicated or significantly altered when computers got involved. He concluded that there should be a new branch of applied ethics similar to already existing fields like medical ethics and business ethics; and he decided to name the proposed new field “computer ethics”.

Walter Maner first coined the term “computer ethic” in the mid 1970s, but only since the 1990s has it started being integrated into professional development programs in academic settings. The conceptual foundations of computer ethics are investigated by information ethics, a branch of philosophical ethics established by Luciano Floridi. Computer ethics is a very important topic in computer applications. (Herold, 2006)

Need of computer ethics

    • The growth of the WWW has created several novel legal issues

    • The existence of new questions that older laws cannot answer

    • Traditional laws are outdated/anachronistic in this world

    • A more coherent body of law is needed to govern Internet and computers

2 Ethics, in the classical sense, refers to the rules and standards governing the conduct of an individual with others (Alavundeen,Kalil and Jayakumaran, 2008). As technology and computers became more and more a part of our everyday lives, we must understand that the problems that have always plagued business and conduct will continue to be a problem such as copyright breaches, hackers, information security and computer crime. In fact, a new medium can provide even more difficult questions of judgement.  In other words, since the introduction of the World Wide Web, the definition of ethics has evolved, too. A new type of ethics known as computer ethics has emerged. Computer ethics is concerned with standards of conduct as they pertain to computers. In an article written by Jo White in the University of Otago Press (White 1996) entitled, ‘The Internet: Ethical issues for teachers and students’, she refers to the ten commandments developed by the Computer Ethics Institute as an excellent framework for computer users, both recreational and professional. The Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics:

  1. Thou shalt not use a computer to harm other people.
  2. Thou shalt not interfere with other people's computer work.   3. Thou shalt not snoop around in other people's files.
  4. Thou shalt not use a computer to steal.
  5. Thou shalt not use a computer to bear false witness.
  6. Thou shalt not use or copy software for which you have not paid.   7. Thou shalt not use other people's computer resources without authorization.   8. Thou shalt not appropriate other people's intellectual output.   9. Thou shalt think about the social consequences of the program you write.   10. Thou shalt use a computer in ways that show consideration and respect. Recently a parent came to see me at school and asked for some help with her child been bullied on Facebook. Other girls had been posting videos where they called her daughter ugly and that she didn’t deserve a boyfriend and nobody liked her. The...
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